Courts, police and prosecutors are still refusing to produce records of police misconduct. Criminal defendants should be able to obtain records of police misconduct, if not under the statutory Criminal Procedure Law (CPL), then under the New York state and U.S. constitutions.

The People of the state of New York are at a pivotal moment in terms of whether the repeal of Civil Rights Law §50-a will actually have any impact on police misconduct. In People v. Randolph, 2020 NY Slip Op 20231 (Suff. Sup. Ct. 2020), the court endorsed a decision by the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), itself, as to whether a claim of police misconduct against it is founded or unfounded. The SCPD was run by James Burke, police chief, until he was accused and convicted of crimes relating to police misconduct by the U.S. government. In endorsing the SCPD designation, the Randolph court determined relevancy and accessibility not based on the content of the records but based on a unilateral designation by the police department itself!

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